I’ve been going lentil crazy! I made a double batch of these lentils not once, but twice, in the span of a week. The first time was for a girls night. I served roasted cauliflower and blackened eggplant on the side. We ate most of them that night and I just couldn’t get enough. So I went and threw together another double batch. For the second time around I knew I wanted to top them off with a sweet winter squash and I wanted the topping to be crisp as a contrast to the creamy lentils.
Speaking of my girlfriends, we were meeting up for our weekly dinner just a couple nights ago and somebody brought up that they were reading a BuzzFeed article on the pumpkin spice food products that had been taken a step to far. Specifically, they called out pumpkin hummus as being something that was obviously gross and who would possibly want to eat that? I was the sole person that was like “hold on, I think that sounds good!” Why are we totally ok with putting pumpkin, which is a type of winter squash and last time I checked a V-E-G-E-T-A-B-L-E …in our coffee, but have decided that combining it with chickpeas is gross? Well sorry ladies, and sorry to anybody else who thinks that combination is just wrong because I’ve decided it’s not just ok, it’s delicious.
For this recipe I used a squash called Red Kuri, which is a miniature pumpkin with thinner skin and without ridges. It came from our CSA but it’s one of the many varieties of winter squash which is becoming more widely available (I saw it at Whole Foods last week) as people learn that these naturally sweet, delicious vegetables are really good for us. They are high in fiber, beta-carotene, vitamins and minerals. As far as sweetness goes, it falls behind Sugar Pie (most likely to be used in baking or pies) and the very well loved Butternut, but is still pretty sweet and will have a smooth, silky interior and crispy exterior when roasted. Plus it has the added benefit of looking like a cute little pumpkin. Really it’s quite adorable. If you can’t find Red Kuri squash then try a different variety, there are so many good ones out there!
Make sure you use red lentils, as they cook up really creamy and take best to the Asian flavors we have going on here- garlic, ginger, coconut, cumin and lime. I’ve been able to find them at all the different grocery stores I go to, including Trader Joe’s. The chickpeas cooked this way end up very crispy, just don’t skip the step of patting them dry, which is such a nice contrast to the lentils.
Coconut Lentils with Roasted Chickpeas and Squash
3 tablespoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 pounds peeled and cubed winter squash (I used Red Kuri, but Butternut would work well too)
2 tablespoons oil (I used grapeseed)
1 14 oz can of chickpeas, rinsed, drained and patted dry
zest of 1 lime
For the Lentils:
1 tablespoon oil (again, I used grapeseed)
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 tablespoons diced garlic
2 tablespoons diced ginger
1.5 cups red lentils (often labeled red split lentils)
2 cups water or broth
1 14 oz can of coconut milk
juice of 1 lime
Special Equipment Needed:none
Preheat the oven to 425 deg F. Toss the squash with cumin, salt and oil and place on a foil lined rimmed baking sheet. Roast the squash for 15 minutes. Add the chickpeas to the baking sheet and toss well. Continue roasting 15-25 minutes longer until the squash is cooked and the chickpeas are crispy. Remove from oven and toss with the lime zest.
Meanwhile heat oil over medium heat in a pot or dutch oven, 4 quarts or larger. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes until softened a bit. Add the garlic and ginger and cook 3-5 minutes longer. Add the lentils and stir to coat, then add the water or broth of choice and coconut milk. Bring to simmer, cover and cook until the lentils are tender and creamy, 15-20 minutes. Squeeze in the lime juice and salt to taste. The amount of salt will depend on if you use broth or water, but I had to salt pretty heavily, about 1 teaspoon.